Do you know why all vegetarians need to visit Vietnam?
Maybe you won’t get diarrhea.
Maybe. Lettuce can be washed perfunctorily and isn’t a gold-star promise of health, but by and large, eating veggie in Vietnam is quite safe. The locals do know how to do the vegetable dish healthily and delicious as they’ve been perfecting it for centuries.
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It’s pretty easy to get it across that you’re a vegetarian.
In the 17th century, when Alexandre de Rhodes romanized the Vietnamese language, he must have thought of vegetarians. “Chay”, that simple and plain word require you no awkward glottal stops in the middle, falling or rising intonation, no nothing. Point to yourself and say the word like a robot might say it then point at your desired dish like a foreigner you are, your job is done.
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You can’t fathom anything that is cheaper.
If you are in the South, every 100 yards you’ll find a middle-aged, short, sun-baked woman working hard at her food cart. That portable plastic and steel cart is lined with frying pans and its shelves are stocked with ingredients. Everything is just baking in the sun as much as their keeper. The Banh Mi you find in those humble carts is better and cheaper than the Banh Mi you pay $8 for at your favorite go-to fusion eatery. The woman will pile on fixings into a soft, airy and fresh-baked baguette, wrap it with newspaper and ask you for about 50 cents.
However, Banh Mi isn’t the only example of vegetarian fare that would line a shoestring, frugal backpacker’s stomach. Tofu spring rolls, fresh watermelon and phở chay, they are not break out the $5 bill. $2 will help you sample the local vegetarian cuisine at its freshest and finest. Your food palette will never grow weary.
Vegetarian fare is everywhere in Vietnam.
Vegetarian restaurants are extensively commonplace in Vietnam, primarily thanks to its large Buddhist population. Some restaurants offer optional chay menu. Next time you bump into an angry vegetarian Westerner who had trouble meeting her or his culinary guidelines in Vietnam, assume they are not doing something right. Chay is everywhere. Vietnam is an animal-lover’s utopia.